Professional soccer in the US has grown less popular than in most other regions of the world. The U.S professional first-division league, the Major League Soccer, (MLS) is not as attractive in comparison to the American baseball and football major leagues. However, the importanceof soccer in the U.S has grown immenselysince the 1990s. The major reason being the fact that, in1994, for the first time, the U.S hosted the FIFA World Cup.The general league structure in the U.S is considerablydifferent from that employed in nearly all other parts of the globe, but comparable to that employed by other sports leagues in the U.S. This is evident in that,it lacks a relegation and promotion system between the lower and higher leagues, but utilizes a minor league system. It is essential to note that, despite its definite popularity in the world’s sports arena and, in spite of recent achievements, U.S soccer continues to thrive only in the minor leagues. This is despite the development of thesoccer market in the U.Sever since the World Cup in 1994, the MLS teams go on to struggling despite their projected market potential (Markovits 12).
STATUS OF SOCCER IN THE U.S
In the U.S, there are four most important sports namely: the National Football League plays football, the Major League Baseball plays baseball, the National Basketball Association plays basketball, while the National Hockey League plays hockey. These four major sports are entirely characteristic of the American identity and culture. As a result of competition, from other kinds of sports, soccer in the U.S has continued to struggle to achieve an economic grip in the country. The economic, cultural, as well as,psychological space accessible for sport is narrow, and that space is already full. This may be seen in the fact that the MLS continues to loose dramatically inTV deals, average salaries, as well as revenues in comparison with other key US sport. Since its inception in 1996, the MLS has lost approximately $350 million. Secondly, the average MLS player salary is approximately $115,000, while a basketball player earns an average salary of approximately $5.3 million(Stewart 101).
Reasons Why Soccer is Unpopular in US.The U.S overcrowded its sports space with only four games, thus diminishing the chances of soccer being integrated into the sports culture of the U.S. These factors demonstrate that, the U.S has not acknowledged soccer as a mainstream sport. In the history of the United States, this nation has always resisted external influence (Foer 62). This can also be the case in regard to soccer, since soccer is perceived as a European sport. Therefore, it fails to be acknowledged along with the sports that were invented in America, like, basketball, baseball, and football. In addition, a large assortment of sports to select from, there are a number of more reasons why soccer fails to rank highly in popularity in the U.S. Among the major factors is scoring limitations in the sport. Some observers define soccer as a sport whereby,22 players runup and down on a grass field for one and a half hours,with few incidents as fans shout wildly. This kind of description recapitulates the overall American perception and attitude in regard to soccer. Baseball might be regarded as America’s most favorite pastime, that sports enthusiast would rather watch. For the majority of Americans, soccer does not have a sufficient amount scoring. Although soccer players might be the best-conditioned sportspersons in the world, the American fans may probably prefer to watch less running in the field and more scoring.
The majority of Americans perceive soccer as a low-scoring, slow-paced, and unexciting game. This perception of soccer is fairly precise when comparing the soccer to other sports like basketball, hockey, or American football. Scores of Americans are of the opinion that it fits in American culture to abhor soccer. Some observers are of the opinion that the hatred soccer in the U.S is increasingly American way of life. However, the lack of interest has more to do with the comparatively low scores in the soccer games. According to American sports enthusiasts, teams are loved because they score, since scoring is a tangible achievement that can be acknowledged, quantified, compared, tabulated, analyzed, and, primarily increased. This forms the American way of life(Trecker 6).
Youth involvement in soccer in the U.S has been associated with high school in such a way that, once the youth graduates from high school, participation in soccer drops. A major reason for this may be the fact that soccer is not showcased adequately in the media and consequently, it is not perceived as an adequately lucrative,professional option. Fundamentally, soccer in the U.S does not transition into a mainstream sport that is pursued by the majority of American fans.
Though a number of American sports enthusiasts may refute it, the U.S is mesmerized by sporting violence. The attractiveness of American football is a demonstration of America’s adoration of sporting violence as well as, aggressive behavior. Basketball as well, has evolved from the finesse sport it was to a reasonably violent game. Soccer has intensity as well as some degree of contact, but it is not mean enough for the American fans(Warfield 32).
Commentators, sports writers, athletes, as well as American politicians continue to speak negatively in regard to the game. Jack Kemp, an ex- quarterback in Buffalo Bills, and also one of the most prominent conservatives in the 1980’s, tried to influence the US Congress to endorse a resolution that attemptedprevent the US from playing host to the 1994 World Cup. According to Kemp, a distinction ought to be made that American football is democratic, and capitalistic, while soccer is a socialist sport from Europe. According to an influential sports commentator, Jim Rome, soccer does not fit in the definition of a sport, and therefore, should not appear on his TV shows. These two Americans represent a vast majority of Americans who feel that soccer does not represent the American culture as well as history, but rather it represents the history and culture of European countries as well as their ways of life(Stotlar 89).
According to Markovits the issue revolves around the concept of American exceptionalism in regard to the global order, as well as how this exceptionalism, aswell as influences the sporting space in the U.S. Americansports depicts an entirely different relationship in regard to nationalism, compared to that of soccer played in the rest of the world. This sense of self-contained nationalism that acts differently from therest of the global arena typifies America’s most important sports, namely baseball, football, and basketball. Through the comprehensive analysis of Markovits, the unpopularity of soccer toemerge as a main sport in the U.S has far-reaching cultural as well as historical roots thatare demonstrated in a comparative perspective to other modernized and industrial nations(Trecker 9).
Probably the unpopularity of soccer in the U.S is as a result of its diversity as a sport and depiction of a cross-section of America, in regard to the fan base as well as the players. This ranges from stereotypical urban Latinos to white sub-urbanites. If the four major sports are primarily dominated by the working poor, and middle class in distinction to the white, sub-urban affluence associated with soccer, then race and class are concerns that inform the unpopularity of soccer in the U.S.
However, even though soccer may not be traditionally perceived as a major sport America, it is currently growing in popularity. The 2006 World Cup for instance, witnessed the highest viewer numbers for a soccer match ever in the U.S. These are highly hypothetical arguments. It is essential to cite a few survey data from a study conducted by Foer (2010). The study entailed a mail analysis of 21,106 adults in the U.Sconducted in the initial quarter of 2010. According to this survey, 4.6% of the study respondents claimed that they had engaged in playing soccer in the past 1 year (see Appendices 1, figure 1. The figure depicts the incidences by gender, age, county size, household income, and education.
Demographically, the soccer players in the U.S are fundamentally a broad range of individuals from diverse social structures. The men, they are younger than women, who are primarily college-age, and 35 to 44 years of age. Asa measure of urbanization, the study utilizes the county sizes variable. The “A” counties are found in the largest metropolitan regions like Queens, Kings, and New York counties in New York City, Los Angeles county in Los Angeles, Cook county in Chicago. Whereas the “D” counties are found in the hinterlands, which have several hundreds of households scattered over a huge area. The results of the survey demonstrate that soccer playing has a higher incidence in the urban areas, while the soccer players have a propensity to be better educated as well as more affluent.
Foer, F. How Soccer enlightens the World: An Implausible Globalization Theory,New York: HarperCollins, 2010.Print.
Markovits, S. Soccer & the American Exceptionalism. Princeton: Princeton University Press, 2009. Print.
Stewart, G. Quest for Value. N.Y: HarperCollins. 2007. Print.
Stotlar, D. Emergent Successful Sports Sponsorship Programs. Macmillan: London. 2010. Print.
Trecker, K. “Cup & Cuts Brightens MLS Outlook.” Journal of Sports & Business 5. 2(2010):pp 6-9.Print.
Warfield, T. “Donovan Returns a Kick For the League”. Journal of Sports & Business 50.3 (2009): pp. 27- 32. Print.
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